During the holiday season, it can be difficult to find time to take care of yourself and the cold weather often keeps us indoors. However, its important for your heart health and overall well-being to stay active year-round.
“Regular exercise can lower your blood pressure, boost your good cholesterol, improve blood-flow, help you maintain a healthy weight, stop or slow progression of diabetes, reduce inflammation, lower stress, help strengthen muscles, and even help with quitting smoking,” said Daisy Lazarous, MD, a cardiologist with Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group. “All of these factors help keep your heart in good condition and prevent heart disease.”
How Much Should I Exercise?
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both. Kids ages 6-17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day.
Moderate-intensity activities include:
- Brisk walking (at least 2.5 miles per hour)
- Water aerobics
- Biking slower than 10 miles per hour
Vigorous-intensity activities include:
- Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
- Swimming laps
- Aerobic dancing
- Heavy yardwork
- Cycling 10 milers per hour or faster
- Jumping rope
Staying Active in Cold Weather
“Getting enough exercise can be challenging as temperatures drop, but there are plenty of ways you can stay active during the winter months. In addition to keeping your cardiovascular system healthy, physical activity can boost your mood and reduce stress during the busy holiday season,” said Lauren Conley, a clinical exercise physiologist.
Try these indoor exercises if the cold keeps you indoors, said Conley.
- Body weight exercises like push-ups, jumping jacks, lunges or squats
- Active housework like vacuuming or sweeping
- Mall walking
- An online or app-based workout program
- Roller skating
- Yoga or other group exercise classes
- Climbing stairs
- Count your steps with a fitness tracker or pedometer – aim for 8,000 to 10,000 per day.
If you still like to exercise outdoors, just be sure to dress in layers, adds Conley. Try layering:
- A moisture-wicking fabric or high-performance sportswear,
- Then fleece, and
- Finally, a thin waterproof layer on top.
Exercising is just one important way to keep your health in good shape.